BC Business Magazine

The more things change...


British Columbia's economy is more diversifie­d than ever, and that's a good thing. As the indefatiga­ble Peter Mitham, who compiles our annual ranking of the top 100 B.C. companies by revenue, notes on page 71, sectors such as technology and retail helped our province outperform the rest of the country in 2016.

OK, but have things really changed over the years? Yes and no. For comparison's sake, I dug up the Top 100 list from 1992, the first year we published a ranking that combined public and private companies with provincial Crown corporatio­ns. The No. 1 name, grocery distributo­r Kelly Douglas & Co., is now a subsidiary of Ontario-based Loblaw Cos. Ltd. But holding second place was the Jim Pattison Group, which occupies the same spot on the new list. At No. 5: BC Telephone, since merged with Telus Corp., which takes first place this year.

Resource giants and government entities dominated the top 20 in 1992—and still do. Forestry stalwarts Macmillan Bloedel and Fletcher Challenge/crown Group ( Nos. 3 and 4) are no more, but miner Teck Resources Ltd. claims third in our current ranking. BC Hydro and Power Authority and Insurance Corp. of British Columbia finished sixth and eighth, respective­ly, 25 years ago, two spots below their status today.

The most dramatic change to the top 20? The rise of retail and entertainm­ent. Witness London Drugs owner H.Y. Louie Co. Ltd. (No. 7), movie producer Lions Gate Entertainm­ent Corp. (No. 14) and yogawear star Lululemon Athletica Inc. (No. 19), all signs of B.C.'S breadth and depth.

The Top 100 is a mainstay, but this also marks our first collaborat­ion with Discourse Media. Led by editor-inchief and CEO Erin Millar, Discourse produces something in short supply: investigat­ive features. When Millar and I sat down together early this year, we saw an opportunit­y to share her company's fine work with readers. To that end, I had the pleasure of working with Discourse managing editor Lindsay Sample and reporter Trevor Jang.

The result is Jang's “Breaking Tradition” (p.52), which shows how negotiatio­ns with resource companies can affect B.C. aboriginal communitie­s. Although Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. and other energy players have signed deals with First Nations bands, some members feel left out—to the point that they're blockading projects and suing their own leaders. Economic uncertaint­y aside, why would any corporate citizen want to leave such a legacy of discord? Fortunatel­y, there's a better way: engage the community by giving everyone a voice in the final decision. Erin, Lindsay and Trevor, thank you for bringing us the story.

Nick Rockel, Editor-in-chief bcb@canadawide.com / @Bcbusiness

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